by Stan Mitchell
“We all, like sheep have gone astray, we have turned – every one – to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6, ESV).
I believe in the principle of restoration. Because humans habitually, sinfully wander from God, I believe that restoration is a constant necessity, not just in every generation, but in every life, and in my case, every day.
Sailors have always depended on the North Star for their direction. A stormy night might obscure their view, a confused navigator might make a mistake, but the star remained the same. And a ship that was off course could always correct its direction, restore it to its rightful place.
I believe that the Restoration is a process, a movement in the true sense of the term. I am fearful of prideful claims to have restored the church in its every facet in our day.
I fear it for two reasons. First, life has a way of throwing wrinkles at us. Technology and medical advances constantly confront the church with new ethical dilemmas. Alexander Campbell never had to ask about the moral implications of human genome cloning; we do.
Satan will continue to find new and original innovations to throw at us. On a case by case basis, we will have to ask, “Is this new outreach method, or this new angle on worship biblical?” This process of holding a practice up to scripture is the process of restoring New Testament Christianity.
The second reason I fear claims to “have” restored Christianity in our day is that churches, inevitably, gather the dust of opinion and unexamined tradition over time. Churches of Christ, too, are human. We received no inoculation against error.
Traditions may be good and beneficial; we may continue to use some if they are. But the restorationist must constantly seek scripture to define that which is tradition, and make the distinction! A fellowship whose authority lies in a place other than scripture does not make this distinction; we must.
I believe in restoration because God demands it. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen,” he urges us, “Repent and do the works you did at first!” (Revelation 2:5). Repentance and restoration go hand in hand. I do not foresee a time when humanity will grow beyond either.